How to Choose the Right Interior Design Program Livingston Alabama
Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design degree program near Livingston AL, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's imperative that you get the appropriate training to put your talents to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's crucial that you perform the appropriate research so that you can evaluate and compare each school that you are reviewing prior to making your final selection. But exactly where do you begin? Many prospective students will start their research by searching for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are key issues when making a decision, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into consideration also. We will cover those topics and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class choices are available.
Interior Decoration and Interior Design
Many people confuse interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The key difference between the two is the amount of training required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. However, conducting business as an interior designer requires formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or residential spaces attractive as well as functional. On various projects they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are two general areas that an interior designer in Livingston AL may specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any room of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public spaces, designers frequently concentrate predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. As an example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may focus more on functionality over looks as the main concern.
There are numerous areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. They must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui concepts, Livingston AL interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final designs.
Interior Designer Degrees
There are four degree options available in interior design to get the training needed to begin your new profession in Livingston AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be driven by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, be sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in several states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum level of education needed to enter the profession. They take about two years to complete and programs are available at a number of Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that supply more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical components of the business required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced training in design after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are mostly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are normally completed in three to five years.
To work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required before a candidate can take the licensing exam.
Online Interior Designer Degree Programs
For those who wish to study in the comfort of their Livingston AL homes, there are online accredited interior design schools. Studying online can be a good solution for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For many students online programs may be the only option if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Additional expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the college you pick is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the ideal option for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Designer Colleges
After you have chosen the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can start the process of analyzing your school options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the campus has to be within commuting distance from your Livingston AL home. Of course if you have decided on attending a school online, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will decrease your choices also. But selecting the least expensive school or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you should consider as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the school. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the programs you are considering to get those answers as well as others to help you examine and ultimately pick the right degree program.
Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's essential to verify that the interior designer school and program that you select has been accredited by either a national or regional agency. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding evaluation of their teachers and programs. Just make sure that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are excellent, it may also help when obtaining financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Livingston AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.
Does the Program Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam as well as a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States calling for licensing, a minimum of 2 years of occupational experience may be required also. So aside from providing an exceptional education, the Livingston AL program you choose should also provide the suitable instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and satisfy the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the School's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and obtained your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly need some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design field and its graduates are sought after. It might also signify that the college has a sizable network of Livingston AL business relationships where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Livingston AL colleges you are evaluating and ask what type of aid they offer. A number of interior designer programs offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Various colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide support in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. Often a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.
How Big are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Livingston AL colleges you are reviewing what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Livingston home, visit the campus and sit in on a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior design school you select offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Livingston AL, verify that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, verify that is an option also. Finally, find out what the process is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Ideal Livingston Interior Design Program
Picking the right interior design program is a critical initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and gratifying occupation. Searching for a college where you will obtain your training and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a difficult job regardless of what major you have selected. As with any endeavor to attain an advanced education, there are many things to consider before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design school are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. However it is still important that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design programs so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with superior training and your desire to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Livingston AL.